Driving in France: Do’s and Don’ts
New regulations start today in France that should concern everyone who pops across the channel and drives there. But some of the information given by our media is inaccurate so what’s the truth?
From today, July 1, you need to take with you a breath testing kit. Some newspapers and TV stations say you need to carry two. That is wrong. You must have one but two or more are suggested in case you use one. The French tourism office, Atout France, suggests you don’t need to buy a multi-use testing kit since at €50 they are bad value for money. Why? Because your chances of being stopped 50 times in your entire lifetime of driving (a single breath testing kit costs just €1 in French supermarkets) is pretty low. It also points out that you don’t need to take a breath test before you drive just to make sure you aren’t over the limit. There is a moratorium until November so even if you forget to stock your glove box with one (or two) you won’t be fined. Yet.
You still have to carry a triangle in your boot in case you break down and you still need to carry those stick on kits to adjust your headlight beam. But you also need to carry a set of replaceable bulbs for your lights.
Other things that have altered in the last year include a ban on using a mobile phone whilst driving which will cost you an on-the-spot fine of €130. Don’t think if you haven’t got the money you’ll get away with it. More than one driver has said they were escorted to the nearest ATM to get the cash.
Radar warning devices have been banned for the last eight months as well. If your GPS system has it installed, Atout France says that they will be in breach of French law from this summer.
One useful feature of the Atout France website is that carries a pretty up-to-date guide to fuel prices in France as well as suggestions on where to fill up to get better deals. Before setting off for your French trip, spare a few minutes to read the driving page; it collates what you need to know and gives advice as well.